As for my personal opinion and experience of having been in Mexico for more than one month now, I must disagree with the U.S. government’s travel advisory to Mexico. Mexico is a beautiful country and from all national and international friends I have not heard anything bad from anyone so far, not only here in Guadalajara, Jalisco but including all of their travel experiences. I myself have been on trips to Toluca and Monterrey and have not had any bad experiences or seen anything negative.
I agree that some areas are probably more dangerous or require more caution than others, but that should not prevent anyone from coming to Mexico. Its people and culture are something worth seeing, whether as part of a culturally focused or party trip.
Being a student at University of Wisconsin, I had to find out that exchange programs with Mexico (all of Mexico!) are currently closed. I worked around it by self-organizing my trip but that still makes me think that it shouldn’t be that way. Considering for example Monterrey as one of the more dangerous cities, one could argue not sending students to Monterrey for now. Closing exchange programs with all of Mexico simply seems out of proportion. Besides, I think the U.S. (only Wisconsin!?) is the only country that stopped its exchange programs. At the ITESM campus in Guadalajara, there are international students from around the world on official exchange programs. For that reason, I believe the U.S. is taking something a bit too serious.
Furthermore, I believe that speaking out travel advisories for all of Mexico and closing exchange programs, and others, is more detrimental to the situation than helpful. The losses and damages created by decreased tourism and the cultural exchange that happens between tourists and local people will be really hard to make up for. With less revenues coming from the tourism sector, I am afraid that this will actually increase the current situation and give more power to drug cartels and other groups.
Thus, I hope to see a continuous flow of tourism and student exchanges with Mexico, from all countries including the U.S. People should be cautious in traveling but that is true for any destination, including considerably safe destinations such as Central Europe, Canada, or the U.S. itself. After all, some of the 50 most dangerous cities of 2011 are located in the U.S., being on level with some Mexican areas. Should Mexico speak out travel advisory to all of the U.S. because of that or stop its students from going there? Or should Europe…?
Source for the 50 most dangerous cities:
New Orleans (#21), Detroit (#30), St. Louis (#43), and Baltimore (#48): http://www.teamliquid.net/forum/viewmessage.php?topic_id=303432
St. Louis on #3: http://urbantitan.com/10-most-dangerous-cities-in-the-world-in-2011